Last Communist quite tame

Adil Johan & Toronto

Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

It's a shame that the movie 'Lelaki Komunis Terakhir' was banned. Very shameful. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie when it was screened in Toronto. It didn't glorify communism, it gave it a human face, a common face. Chin Peng and Rashid Maidin were not even in the movie (save for a caricature of the Baling Peace Treaty).

Amir Muhammad interviewed common folk from all the towns that Chin Peng had traversed starting with his hometown. What's great about it was that not all the interviews were necessarily political; they were more personal. In essence, Amir was taking a very post-modern approach to the film.

Although I dare say that the musical sketches had elements of the Socialist-Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt (alienation effect). He was trying to depict the hardships and ideologies that Chin Peng was experiencing through the songs that were reminiscent of British as well as Communist propaganda films.

Some of my favourite songs achieved a surreal juxtaposition of a happy melody about malaria, for example. Another was a 'propaganda' song about communism; it was sung by a multicultural cast of six women doing a very robotically choreographed dance but with an informal air about it.

There was good use of alienation effect here, as the casualness of the performers while lightening up the scene, somehow has a way of augmenting the serious undertone of the movie. I liked it.

'Lelaki Komunis Terakhir' should definitely have a chance to be screened. I highly doubt it will offend anyone with a sane mind in Malaysia. As Amir says, unless you're interested enough about the subtleties of the film (as most Malaysians would rather watch explosions and CGI), it's actually quite a tame movie.